The Forage Producer’s Toolkit

Many professions must invest in tools specific to their trade to be successful. Besides the typical tools of wrenches, screwdrivers, chisels and hammers, what other items or gadgets would be helpful to be a successful forage producer?

  • People
    • Find professionals that are knowledgeable, responsive, and have a passion for forages – Advisors should provide value
    • Build good working relationships BEFORE a problem occurs
    • Your county’s Purdue Agricultural and Natural Resources Extension Educator and Natural Resources Conservation Service office are valuable resources
  • Join organizations that emphasize forages as a learning opportunity
    • Excellent considerations would be the Indiana Forage Council (indianaforage.org) and your livestock interest association(s)
    • Provides an opportunity to network with people of like interests
  • Resource materials that emphasize forages
    • Forage magazines, websites, podcasts, apps, and publications
    • A great value is the Purdue Forage Field Guide (ID-317)
    • A helpful weed control guide is WS-16-W.
  • Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Lab (https://ag.purdue.edu/btny/ppdl/Pages/default.aspx)
    • A resource for helping identify issues in the field
    • Can help diagnose disease, insects, unknown plants, toxins, and more by utilizing a wide range of Purdue specialists
  • Calendar
    • Document important items on a calendar or in a work diary
      • When did seeding, fertilization, pesticide applications, machine harvest and rotation to another paddock occur?
      • What was found when scouting fields? What was done to take care of the concerns?
  • Web Soil Survey (https://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/)
    • Useful in sampling soil by soil type, forage species selection, and best location for building sites
  • Soil probe
    • Be consistent in timing of each sampling year if comparisons are made among years
    • Sample every three years or when big changes occur
    • Use soil test results to put a fertilizer management plan in action
  • Insect sweep net
    • Great resource for capturing aphids, potato leafhopper, and beneficial insects and to determine if there is an economic threshold
  • Yardstick and algebra
    • Equations are found in the Purdue Forage Field Guide
    • Helps determine length of stay in a pasture and stocking capacity
    • Move on to another paddock when there is 4” residual height
  • Hay probe
    • Test forages for nutritional value
    • Aids in formulating rations
    • Can test forage that may contain molds or other poisonous substances
    • Many different hay probe options – See foragetesting.org
  • Moisture and temperature hay bale probe
    • Accurate testing of moisture and temperature determines whether hay in storage may become a concern.
      • Too dry – less than 15 percent – Dry matter and quality loss
      • Too wet
        • Heating – Unavailable crude protein, mold and spontaneous combustion
      • Test moisture before harvest; test moisture and temperature often after baling for 3 – 4 weeks
      • Know your “danger zones”
        • >20 % moisture without an organic acid preservative
        • > 125 °F: Begin monitoring temperature often
  • Penn State Particle Separator
    • Check chop length from a representative field sample and adjust forage harvester as needed
    • Correct chop length allows for best silo packing, lactic acid formation, and proper rumen function
  • Use of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Worthy of Consideration
    • Grazing pressure
    • Species composition
    • Plant disease concerns
    • Soil fertility problems
    • Insect pressure
    • Check on water tank function
    • Livestock well being

To be a successful forage producer it is important to invest resources in items that can help with forage production and harvest. From the items noted above, what will be your first of many investments that can improve your business?

 

Standard tools are necessary on the farm, but other “tools” are necessary investments, too. (Photo Credit: Keith Johnson)

Standard tools are necessary on the farm, but other “tools” are necessary investments, too. (Photo Credit: Keith Johnson)

Share This Article
It is the policy of the Purdue University that all persons have equal opportunity and access to its educational programs, services, activities, and facilities without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, disability or status as a veteran. Purdue is an Affirmative Action Institution. This material may be available in alternative formats. 1-888-EXT-INFO Disclaimer: Reference to products in this publication is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in this publication assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.
Pest&Crop newsletter - Department of Entomology Purdue University 901 W. State St. West Lafayette, IN 47907

© 2020 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Pest&Crop newsletter

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact Pest&Crop newsletter at luck@purdue.edu.